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Agent Diary: Peaks may come a little later this year, but it will come

Look ahead to renewed excitement for travel, says Thompson Travel owner Sharon Thompson

Our resources are gone, our funds have been depleted and the government hasn’t listened that much, but yet we are still here.

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and managed to switch off just long enough to realise we have a lot to be thankful for. There is a reason for the break over the festive season.

Christmas has impacted the world for more than 2,000 years. Covid has only been around for less than two years of our lives so far, although it feels like more, but we will also look back on it in the future as it influences the way we travel and our industry.

Never give up

I prayed a lot in 2021, probably more than I ever have. I’m not ‘religious’ as such – that brings hatred and arguments – but I believe there is a god who understands our prayers in our minds and hearts, even if we can’t find the words to say them.

It was amazing to provide tickets in the lead-up to Christmas to families heading off to visit their relatives or enjoy a much-needed break, and nice to see some of them travel over the period.

Those customers are also our industry’s best hope of marketing right now, showing their networks their confidence in travelling. They have abided by the latest rules and restrictions, and decided that these are only a small hurdle compared to the fantastic reunions they have longed for.

As travel agents, that is why we do our job. We are selling experiences, memories and happiness – and that is the way we must think and communicate to our customers.

Whatever happens, we have to look forward to bringing more confidence and a renewed excitement of travel in better days.

As the saying goes: ‘No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up and never give up’!

January is normally our top sales month, and I imagine that’s the case for most of you too. Even though the restrictions are in place, we’re hoping for a more positive outlook when they are reviewed. Whatever happens, we have to look forward to bringing more confidence and a renewed excitement of travel in better days.

The peak sales period may come a little later this year, but it will come. As Dermot Kennedy sang in his song Better Days are Coming:

I know you’ve been hurting,
Waiting on a train that just won’t come,
The rain, it ain’t permanent,
And soon, we’ll be dancing in the sun

A huge thank you

As the financial year ends in March, I’m hoping for some strong bookings and a sign of profit in the last few months that will keep me and my family in the business we love.

Those forward bookings, shifts and changes may just have been worth the fight, even if it didn’t seem like it at the time.

I want to send a big thank you to our staff, our suppliers and those who have stood by us since March 2020.

I want to send a big thank you to our staff, our suppliers and those who have stood by us since March 2020. As we enter what we hope will be a more prosperous new year, that support will be remembered.

We’ll all be hoping 2022 is the new 2019. Here’s to a Happy New Year!


SHUTTERSTOCK pounds

And now for the support act

We have received some positive news from Northern Ireland’s devolved government about potential financial support for travel agencies already this year. There was no mention of the travel sector in the announcement of a £40 million Omicron business support package for hospitality in the week before Christmas, but a delegation of us representing the industry is now due to have a virtual meeting with economy minister Gordon Lyons about the issue. And my MP, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, has told me the Northern Ireland Executive has “accepted in principle the need to fund such a further scheme” for the travel sector in NI. We’ll keep the pressure on.

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